Thursday, December 24, 2015

Missing gNate

What went down tonight was a rad, mostly non-organized, semi-regular, seasonal bike hang.  With thanks to Justin, without whose initiative we would be that much more adrift.  Glen traditionally hosts this affair, and always BBQ's some type of rad sausages.  No girls showed up, so we were free to get sophomorically weird and hilarious, if only in our own opinion.  The absence of carbs and abundance of protein on the makeshift buffet table may have also had its effect on us, I am not sure.  It is a complex equation.

See if you can spot the unicorn

One thing that IS indisputable and irrefutable within the mist is that three core dudes were conspicuously absent tonight . . .

As for Wade, there is no excuse, that any of us could come with in our tribunal, to justify his absence.  As with any family member that has gone astray, love is the operative emotion, and we just want Wade to get right.  Wade: please get right.

And please also remember that my sister-in-law is your boss, as an added incentive.

Here's one example of why we can't let go of Wade without a fight:

The larger backstory of that torrid moment is here.

As for gNate and Eberly, that's a whole 'nother deal.

Those dudes saved my life not that long ago, on a mountain high above Loon Lake.  The whole mess is documented here.

The Cliff Notes version is that I was wrecked, as you can clearly see:

Meanwhile, these two happy bastards . . .

. . . saved my life.

So I owe them, of course.  But they also owe me.  As in an explanation of why they weren't with us tonight.

Eberly had this whole elaborate excuse about how he's on the verge of finishing his degree program and couldn't drop everything to attend this super rad affair in another city, . . . blah, blah, blah.
Fine, whatever.

gNate, however, has not weighed in with any substantive reason for missing the hang, nor has he weighed in at all.

Consequently, certain people are looking for answers . . .

gNate, have you a response?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Super Sad, Super Rad

My buddy Chip emailed me this afternoon with the breaking news that Jon Snyder resigned from his position on the Spokane City Council (super sad).

 Reason being, he was appointed Washington's first Director of Outdoor Initiative, a new post created by Gov. Jay Inslee (super rad).

 The news immediately reminded me of a line from the movie Shawshank Redemption . . . "I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."

While the comparison may seem super sappy and overly-dramatic, the fundamental sentiment rings true: It would be flat out wrong to cage the magnitude of Jon's integrity and passion and vision and energy within the boundaries of Spokane politics. He has bigger work to do. I will miss him, though. His city council shoes are huge ones to fill. His leadership gave me great comfort.

My buddy John first introduced me to Jon, and it was kind of momentous for me, because it was my first-ever significant personal connection with a local politician. Through Jon, I have had the great privilege of experiencing high-level public servant integrity. Jon embodies the virtue of "for the people", with his every word and action.

It will always be a source of pride for me that I built a front rack for the bike that Jon rode all the hell around Spokane in the course of conducting his business these last few years. The story is here.

 And I will always be incredibly grateful for Jon's recent support of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail at the local/regional level.

With this said, my personal issues, interactions and memorabilia are so incredibly insignificant, in terms of the work he is doing. On this very day that he resigned, a profound and impactful letter to the editor that he wrote was published in today's Spokesman Review.

Holy hell. That's the level of priority and awareness that this guy is operating at.

Thanks, Jon, for everything you have done for Spokane!  And congratulations!  And go get 'em!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

My New eBike: What, Why

I've gone . . . electric.  [GASP!?!]

I'll give you a minute . . .

K, time's up.

Here's the deal, then.

I've been getting more and more interested in electric-assist bikes, or pedalecs.  Reason being, bike commuting has become, for me, not workable.  It's the time commitment - at 34 miles round trip, with a chunk of elevation at the home end, and frequent wind, it can take me an hour or better to get to work and and 1-1/2 or better to get home.  Throw in a shower at each end, and I'm looking at 2 extra hours vs the drive.  At a stage in my life where demands on my time are at an all time high and my energy level is inevitably decreasing with age, the equation doesn't balance.  My thought has been that maybe, this technology could be a way to work a bike back into my transportation scheme.

Ten, or five, or two years ago, my bike ego and resultant indignant sense of human-powered-purity would not have allowed me to even consider this heretical option.  My, how things change with time and technology.  I could go on, but Mr. Money Mustache explains my line of thinking far better than I ever could, in the first part of his post, HERE.

Where MMM and I diverge pretty radically is with respect to DIY kits/fiddling.  Here again, I just don't have the time, much as I wish I did.  I needed the plug and play option, and Bosch offers it NOW.  The system is so well engineered and so well integrated throughout the bike.

In a super-tight nutshell, here's how it all works:

  • Nothing happens unless you pedal.  If you do pedal, however, the bike will assist you, proportional to your input.  If you're lazy, it's lazy too.  If you're on fire, then "let's do this", says the bike.  The response is incredibly immediate.
  • The level of assistance is adjustable by you, the rider.  There are four levels.  Zero is a fifth option.
  • At the lowest level of assist, the bike will match you at half your input.  So if you're putting in 100 watts, it will add 50.
  • At the highest level of assist, the bike will add 2.75x your input.  So if you're putting in 100W, it will add 275, for a total of 375.  That's the shit that moves you up steep hills like a damn rocket and gets you home in time for a hot dinner, as opposed to a cold one.
  • If you ride at the highest level, you will drain your battery long before your ride has ended, and you will be pedaling your 45 Lb bike strictly under your own power and your face will look sad if not downright agonized.
  • If you ride at the lowest level, assistance will be with you for a great many miles, but your face will look content and not downright enthralled, as it would if you were climbing Bernard at 27mph and blasting spent electrons out your ass.
  • Balancing overall trip time against judicious juice use is the game then, and a fun one it is, especially given all the feedback that the handlebar-mounted brain provides.  Said the nerd.

Once I settled on the Bosch system as my must-have drive system, which didn't take long, I set about the task of deciding which brand integrated it into the dream bike with the greatest amount other stuff that I needed to have in my life.  There's a whole big other story about that, but it would put you immediately to sleep, so it will remain untold.  In the end, I recklessly forked over a small bike-fortune on a Trek XM700+.  Great bike, IMO, but how about that for a lame big-box bike name.  If it were up to me, I would incorporate electron spendage in the name for sure.  The "Trek Electron Ass Blaster 700", for instance.  I'm certain that they would sell a bazillion.  (I am also certain that it is a very good thing for Trek that that I am not employed by their marketing department.)

Whenever I get a new bike that I'm really excited about, I feel compelled to act out in a juvenile photographic ritual that I call "senior pictures".  I'm really excited about this bike, so here ya go . . .

The "heart" of this fine machine.

That's a pricey drive unit, appropriately protected by a skid plate.

The cockpit.

The "brain" of this fine machine.

Everything important (power assist level, info displayed) is controllable via this remote, left-thumb-operated unit.

Wires and cables abound.

Lots going on here.  Internal cable routing galore; Cannondale-style headshock;  worthy headlight
driven off the main battery.  And oh yeah, sucky fender line.  Pretty sure I can fix that, though.

Rad enclosed drivetrain.  Whatever big-boy bell-bottom pants you threw
your legs into this morning will work just fine on your ride.

Standard rear der and gearset out back, which works just like normal, and if you use it right, prolongs battery life.

Hydraulic discs, which are welcome and appreciated at the higher speeds you run around at on this bike.

Somewhat fugly but super functional euro kickstand, which I am quickly becoming BFF with.

Maybe my motivation makes sense to you at this point, or maybe you think I am totally full of bat-crazy bike shit, I get it.  You may like it, or you may hate it.  I am not sure myself.  Proof will be in the pud'n, for sure.  Let me get back to you.  In the meantime, please keep your car out of the shoulder . . . I have someplace to be.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A JWPT Must Read


In related news, I screwed something up pretty good in my previous post and have attempted to make amends via an edited-in comment at the end.  I would be grateful if you would take the time to go back and check it out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

JWPT Public Meeting In Rosalia

The first of three public meetings regarding the future of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail occurred today in Rosalia.  There was no way I was going to miss it.

Since I had to take the day off to attend, due to the fact that it was scheduled to start at noon, I decided to make a day of it, and planned a ride on the trail prior to the meeting.  My buddy and neighbor Chip, who has been doing a TON of behind-the-scenes work in terms of getting the word about this issue out to various organizations and individuals, had also committed to being there, so we carpooled out to Rosalia together.

I had also cast a line out to Rich Landers at the SR, who has shown interest in this issue.  He has a busy schedule, but the waters parted at the right time and I hauled a fatbike out for him and we all headed out of Rosalia together at just after 9 this morning, on our short route to connect with the JWPT.

Rich (L), Chip (R)
After a foggy drive out on Hwy 195, we were gifted with a clear, crisp day in Rosalia.  The trail was its awesome self, as usual.

I don't want to get all goofy sentimental here, but at the same time, I am somewhat powerless over my affection for this trail.  The engineer in me simply cannot look at a cut like this without envisioning the human labor and drama that went into creating it, in the early 1900's, when methods and machinery were so primitive, relatively speaking, to those of today.

And then there's the geologic value of the trail.  I know very little about the subject, but even so, I can appreciate the uniqueness and rarity of what the trail has to offer.  It doesn't take a total idiot, in other words.  And when I'm with Chip, who has substantial expertise in this field, it's a major field trip and I'm just drinking out of the fire hose.

The three of us had a really interesting sub-conversation at one point during one of our many stops about emerging transportation technologies and how they might influence the value and future utilization of the trail.  Hard to predict, for damn sure, but one thing we all agreed upon is that the corridor ought to be preserved, if for no other reason than the sake of these potentialities.  Creation from scratch of such a corridor would take tremendous political will and effort, and if we can't even keep the existing one intact, I'm at a loss as to how it could ever be possible to create a new one.

For the time being though, at this 5 minutes in the long history of the trail, bikes are a pretty fine way to experience the JWPT, especially considering the state of evolution of high volume tires that interact exceptionally well with the variable trail surfaces.

We finished up our ride just after 11:00 and headed to the coffee shop in Rosalia, where Rich treated us all to hot chocolates.  It was the right drink, at the right moment, for all of us.  Apprehension over how the meeting would go did not need a caffeine injection.

On to the meat of this post then, the meeting:

Let me start out by apologizing for the dog-krap-quality photo.  You would think that by this time, I would have a bit of a handle on how to take a reasonable photo with my generations-old iPhone 4s.  Apparently not, then.

Krappy photo aside though, here's the deal . . .

The community center in Rosalia was PACKED.  There were no less than 100 people there, and no more than 120, by my somewhat deliberate attempts at estimating, so somewhere in between.  It would have been disastrous if the turnout was low, and so thankfully, this was not the case.

9th District Representative Joe Schmick and Senator Mark Schoesler were in attendance, and are blurrily visible in the upper right corner.  At the podium, is blurrily-visible pro-trail activist and Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association member Ted Baszak.  This dude is doing so much heavy lifting on this debate, and he is working smart.  I'm stopping just short of "man crush", but I have so much respect for Ted and the personal energy he's putting into this.  Overall, the meeting was incredibly cooperative and productive, and it is my opinion that Ted's opening statements, which set the tone, were responsible for this.

Over the course of history, I am estimating that there have been about 7 trazillion human conflicts (roughly).  Of the small percentage of those that have been resolved to the relative satisfaction of both sides, I believe that somehow, the path forward began with an understanding of the other sides' concerns and frustrations.

If am am right about this, then today's meeting gives me great hope for the future of the trail.

Not because there are any easy solutions.  And not because the two sides are even closed to aligned on a path forward.  But because there was genuine honesty, and a DESIRE to listen to, and UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.  I learned so much today, about the challenges and hardships that the trail imposes on adjacent landowners.  You just cannot sit in that space and listen to some of the stories and not be moved.  I hope that the landowners were likewise provided with some insight into why the trail invokes such passion from those of us who value it as a recreational, historical and geologic treasure.  And an irreplaceable public resource.

Almost all of the content of the meeting was public testimony, and the testimony went on for over 2-1/2 hours.

My prepared statements were in the vein of the potential economic impact of the trail to the state economy (which is substantial, based on my research), should its potential be developed.  But a number of others spoke in the same vein, so that by my turn at the podium, my points were pretty well redundant.  So I chose to focus on the theme of understanding and cooperation going forward, during my brief comments.

Which is what I wholeheartedly believe in.

Look, what has transpired in terms of the attempt by Schmick and his group to swoop in and grab the trail under the cover have darkness has come and gone.  If we get hung up on that at this point, we are our own worst enemy.

The issue is now out in the light of day and subject to due process and policy, and that is the vehicle that we need to employ.

My overall experience today was so rich as to be mind-numbing, and I am still trying to process it all and figure out where I land, but there are a couple of things that I am certain of, and want to communicate, to anyone who may be tuning in:

  1. The next public meeting is at Lind, next Monday.  I have a concern that trail users will be under-represented.  Mondays at work are brutal for me, and there's no way that I can get out there for a noon meeting.  If you are able to represent, as a pro-trail advocate, it would be helpful.  With that said, this is not my biggest concern.
  2. The public meeting in Ellensburg is my biggest concern.  If a large, vocal, antagonistic contingent from the west side shows up in Ellensburg, that could be really detrimental to the cause.  The trail issue in Eastern Washington is delicate and sensitive.  Trying to resolve it with a big hammer will be a futile effort.  If you are headed to Ellensburg for that meeting, please communicate via your social media network the imperative to be civil and cooperative in nature.
This whole thing is going to take a long time to resolve.  We're in it for the long haul.  But at least we're now headed down a path that makes sense and has hope, instead of what we were suddenly faced with a few short weeks ago, the consequences of which were unimaginable.

Let's be smart and disciplined, and work hard and cooperatively to find a solution.



Friends of mine provided some great feedback throughout the course of today as far as how my point number 2 above could be perceived as offensive and disrespectful to my west side neighbors.  Upon receiving their input, I am just like, "yeah, I totally get it".  And so I want to apologize to any west siders that were offended by my poorly chosen words.

I was born, raised, and educated in Spokane.  After graduating from college, I married my sweetheart and we moved to Seattle, where we lived and worked for 10 years.  We then moved back to Spokane to be closer to family, and especially Patty's and my aging parents.  I love the west side and I love the east side, and I love all of Washington.  That's the first thing I need you to know.

From my perspective of the genesis and evolution of this whole firestorm, the people that first heard about and rallied to form an opposition effort against the political attack on the trail were the folks in Tekoa.  That's about as far east in Washington as you can get, and where the political will to close the trail emanated from.  By the time I first heard about it, they had already been aware of it for a few days.  The first public meeting was in Tekoa, and I wasn't able to attend, but from the accounts I have read, it was pretty contentious.

Meanwhile, the rest of the state, just like me, was becoming aware of the bullet that had been dodged and what had transpired, and we were alarmed, and trying to figure out what we could do, and those of us who write, were writing about our angst. The whole thing was a pretty major shock, and in response, many of us were somewhat vitriolic.

The three public meetings were then scheduled, starting in Rosalia, followed by Lind, followed by Ellensburg.

My perception is that no one wanted to re-live the tension that existed at the Tekoa meeting, and that this was the impetus for a more civil and cooperative tone at the Rosalia meeting.  So there was this evolution in the nature of the dialogue, which was coincident with the physical location of the dialogue moving slightly from east to west across the sate.  I was one of the lucky recipients of the improved tone of understanding and cooperation that existed in Rosalia.  I bought fully in, obviously.

From Rosalia, the dialogue will ride the wave further west to Lind.  A lot of us are apprehensive that because of the remoteness of the venue, trail supporters will be in the minority and the cooperative evolution will be stunted.  But I think that even if that's the case, it's okay, because I think it's a fair venue, and that the residents of the region need to be heard.  Honestly, I am so interested in what will happen at this meeting that it's killing me that I can't be there.

From Lind, the wave of opportunity for discourse will travel across the Columbia and up the slopes of the gorge into Ellensburg.  This will be the sole location that is conveniently accessed by anyone in western Washington who cares about being involved and active in crafting a solution.  My efforts to somehow preach a style and tone of discourse as the public dialogue moves into Ellensburg are arrogant, misguided and flat-out wrong.  This will be the opportunity that many have been patiently waiting for.  I hope that the turnout is overwhelming, and that the support for the trail is passionate, and that yes, some emotions even boil over.  Ted Blaszak reached out to me early this morning and gave me a gentle, vifrtual, slap in the face as he reminded me that this is the awesome political process that we are all so priveleged to enjoy.

The future of the eastern portion of the JWPT is not an eastern Washington issue and cannot be resolved at a regional level, despite the efforts of some.  This is a statewide trail and therefore a statewide issue.  The stakeholders are many and varied, and they are in every corner of the state and everywhere in between.  The JWPT is a STATE treasure, and I am grateful for every resident and every elected official who appreciates its value and stands up in support of its preservation and development.  There is no way that the trail can be saved if we are not all working together.

Sorry for my misstep and for any offense it created.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


From Ted Baszak, of the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association, who is pouring every ounce of his personal energy into this issue, and who has become a major voice in the dialogue.  WORD . . .

Here's an OPED piece I wrote this week, it's very current to where we are at and tells the whole story. Please share it or get it on whatever blog or other media sources you can, thanks, Save The Trail!!

What will Representative Joe Schmick now do with Washington’s only state wide trail? Will he close it forever? Will he repair it for all? Or will he simply do nothing?

By Ted Blaszak, member of the Tekoa City Council and President of the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association on Face book at the Tekoa Trail & Trestle Association

“Schmick is noncommittal about whether he will try again to close the trail. “We’ll hear from everyone at the meetings,” Capital Press Nov 4th 2015.
During the final budget conferences of the 2015 legislative session, behind closed doors, Representative Schmick (9th Colfax) placed into the capitol budget a proviso that took 135 miles of the John Wayne Trail, 6,000 acres of park land, and gave it away, at no cost, to 200 adjacent property owners. It was a land grab done without any public announcement or input.

When asked later why he made such a definitive move as to close the state wide trail forever in the shadows of secrecy rather than the openness of democracy, he said he did not want to waste his fellow legislators’ time by having a hearing for such a trivial matter. And when asked why he did not bother to inform his own constituents, of which many are trail users, he said that we could go look it up on line if we wanted to. You may find it on line if you read the Capitol Budget very carefully, it is in section 3121(3) on page 118 of the 280 page document.

It is the fundamental basic duty of any legislator to both inform and listen their constituents; all of them not just a particular group of supporters. They are to be our ears and voice in Olympia. Rep. Schmick has failed to fulfil this basic duty of his office, but there may still be time to repair the damage. 
Despite his best efforts to decimate the trail, Rep. Schmick met a road block, in the form of a simple typo. The proviso incorrectly named the points of the trail to be closed, thus nullifying the law enacted when the budget passed. For now, the trail remains open.

If you have never visited the John Wayne Trail, please do, you’ll enjoy it. It is the largest rail to trail conversion in the nation, one of only two cross state trails in America, it’s over 280 miles long. Starting just south east of Seattle, you can bike, ride a horse, or hike all the way to the Idaho border on an isolated path shut to motorized vehicles. It begins in thick wood lands rich with lakes and rivers, then through the dramatic and harsh terrain of the scab lands, and ends in some of the most peaceful pastoral settings our state has to offer. Every mile is solemnly tranquil and offers dramatic vistas.

It is used by thousands annually, including horse riders, hikers, cross country bicyclists, the Boy Scouts of America, The John Wayne Pioneer Trail Riders, and many more.

It is also one of the very few places where you can see the scab lands, a terrain so rare geologically it exist only by the John Wayne Trail and on the planet Mars. Young Washington geologists travel to the trail every year for their training. And rich with the cultural heritage of our state. Just this past weekend the Ralston Grange restored an old rail way station that is on the trail.

Most importantly to me, it ends in my small town of Tekoa WA (pop. 843). You pass a large sign as you enter Tekoa “Welcome to the End of the John Wayne Trail”. It’s important to our identity and our economy. Rep. Schmick must have past that sign on his way to be in our town parade this July.
It’s hard for a small town to stand up to a powerful state legislator but that’s what we did.

We learned about this tragedy in September. While attending the Palouse Empire Fair, where my daughter was showing her 4H sheep “Spot”, I stopped by Rep. Schmick’s booth and asked him if he got the trestle cookies my wife Debra baked and mailed him. I wanted to thank him for his support for our efforts to get funding for the Tekoa Trestle. He said he would support that end of the trail, but planned to reintroduce legislation to close the trail from the Columbia River to Malden. This of course was quite shocking news. Until this moment that information was known only to a handful of people.

Two days later, and after our Mayor John Jaeger spoke with Rep. Schmick, our city council passed a resolution asking that the trail be kept open and better funded instead. Since then there has been something of an uproar in the Palouse. Lots of news articles, emergency town meetings, and a supporting resolution from the City of Spokane.

In all fairness, during my conversation with Rep. Schmick, he made some very good points regarding his motivations for closing the trail. Adjacent land owners have had to endure some real problems. For example, the State has neglected fence lines, noxious weed control, and have recently imposed upon farmers a fee for using the trail to transport equipment.

Recently we met with Rep. Schmick and he agreed to hold with the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association three meetings along the trail to solicit public comment. The meetings will all take place in November so that at their conclusion there is time available for Rep. Schmick to introduce legislation for the 2016 session to address the needs of the trail.

Public Comment Meetings for the John Wayne Trail

Rosalia Tuesday November 10th 12pm 
Community Center (7th St. and Whitman Ave.)

Lind Monday November 16th 12pm 
Union Elevator Conference Room (201 S street)

Ellensburg Monday November 23rd 6pm 
Hal Holmes Center (209 N Ruby St.)

Those unable to attend may email in their concerns to

At these meeting the TTTA will be advocating for 11 key points as the basis for a bill to solve the problems of the John Wayne trail for landowners and trail users alike:
1. improve spraying for noxious weeds
2. reinstate ranger service 
3. repair the cow creek trestle 
4. remove permit requirements for recreationalists 
5. remove fees for farmers moving equipment on the trail
6. restore the Tekoa trestle 
7. start a citizen litter patrol “adopt the trail program”
8. repair the Columbia River Crossing
9. improve rock slide removal and gravel grading
10. proper fences installed and maintained
11. additional trail heads, water stations and bathrooms installed

We hope that at the conclusion of these meetings Rep Schmcik will not introduce legislation to close the trail but will instead seek the sufficient funding necessary to repair it and protect land owners.

To close the trail would be a tragic permanent loss to our state and our small town. To do nothing at all will only exasperate the sufferings of adjacent landowners. The best path forward is to repair the trail.

There are many who will object to the expenditure of any money spent on such projects. I ask they not allow their well-placed conservative values to relegate Eastern WA to second class citizenry. West of the Columbia River the trail is in pristine condition, trail heads, weeds sprayed, maintained fences, finished trestles and ranger patrols. There are no complaints from nearby landowners there. It is only here in Eastern WA that the trail needs to be refurbished. We seek no new taxes but the same type of support for our end of the state wide trail.
The future of our state’s trail is now in the hands of one man. What will our Representive do? I don’t have any idea. But I wish our town was not so dependent upon the good will of one man who has not demonstrated a history of support for the trail.

If you are a Washington citizen in support of our trail please come to our meetings, we need you. If you are a city councilor please help us by passing a similar resolution to Tekoa and Spokane’s. And if you are member of the Washington State legislature please do whatever you can to help us save the trail.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tuesday Next

From the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association FB Page:

The Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association has been in conversations with Representative Schmick and together we have found a possible path to a solution.

Three public meetings have been scheduled for the month of November.

These meetings will be listening conversations along the trail scheduled to conclude before the deadline for legislators to submit a proposed bill for the next legislative session.

Rep. Schmick has said he will consider introducing a bill at the end of these meetings.

Tuesday November 10th 12pm Rosalia, Community Center (7th St. and Whitman Ave.)
Monday November 16th 12pm Lind, Union Elevator Conference room (201 S street)
Monday November 23rd 6pm Ellensburg, Hal Holmes Center (209 N Ruby St.)

Those not able to attend may email comments to:


At this point in time I am heavily invested in this issue and here's what I have to say:

The tactic of scheduling midday meetings is so advantageous to Schmick and his merry band.  This meeting time characterizes the issue, and its resolution, as a purely rural topic, which it is not.  An evening meeting schedule would facilitate greater participation from Spokane and other larger population centers who have a legitimate interest and right to participate in this dialogue.

It's not possible for me, as a regular concerned citizen who wants to engage in this political process, to "get away" from my job in the Spokane Valley and drive out to Rosalia in the middle of the day, and attend a noon meeting of whatever length and then drive back to my job in the Spokane Valley, without just calling it a day.  If I wasn't already so desensitized to the insulting tactics of Schmick and Dye, I would be super pissed, but this is what I have come to expect in the form of cooperation/collaboration from this group, which essentially, is nil.

You do what you have to do, and I have decided to trade a vacation day that I'd scheduled a long time ago around the Christmas holiday to spend time with my family, for a vacation day this next Tuesday.

Vacation days are precious in my world, and I'm determined to make this one count.

I am so totally interested in participating in a discussion about how to make the trail work for both the adjacent landowners and the users, but I am not sensing any such sentiment from either the words or actions of the Schmick group.  Super discouraging.

Trust is the missing component.  If it were in place, this whole deal would not be that hard to get through.  But without it, it's almost impossible.

Stay tuned.  Or better yet, get involved.

Here's what's at stake:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

JWPT Skirmish: One Way You Can Help

It doesn't require much of your time, but it's one of those things that could make a bit of a difference in the long haul.

If you could go check out this article and then either like or dislike any or all of the comments, in accordance with your true feelings and conscience, that would be awesome.

Thanks is advance.

Monday, October 19, 2015

JWPT Situation Update

Nothing will be resolved immediately.  That much is for sure.

But the issue, and the polarity, are now out in the open, and that's a good thing, as opposed to the bullshit stealth land grab tactics that 9th District Reps Schmick and Dye tried to employ.  I shudder to think where we could be, if they had gotten their wording right, in a provision to the state budget.  The land could already be into private hands and we would be fighting the impossible, uphill battle of prying it away and back into the public domain.

Although I will never know it, there is some back-story there as to how this language got botched.  I would be surprised if it was sheer ineptitude; my preferred guess is that the trail has an angel somewhere in the political system that exercised a cunning move to get this morally sickening, back-handed effort aborted and exposed and into the public light.  If that is indeed the case, I would love to buy that individual a very expensive steak dinner.  Or some vegan extravagance, if that was the preference.  Or whatever.  You get my drift.

As it is now, the two sides are establishing their positions and foundations.  I am sure there are more proper military terms.  But the laying of the political groundwork to fight this battle, in short.

I am not super involved in the fight, because I am not that capable, but I am not un-involved, either, because I care.  I am figuring out who my friends are and who my friends are not.

First, the nots:

  • Schmick and Dye, obviously.  And all the dirty-handed folks that embraced their scheme.
  • My 6th district state reps Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy.  Neither responded to a very pointed email I sent regarding the issue, asking them where they stand.  I understand that politicians get a shit-ton of email, but also, a response of some sort to a well-written and respectful inquiry is a reasonable expectation.  I can only read between the lines.

Now, for the Friends:

  • City Councilman Jon Snyder.  The dude is so incredibly rad and efficient.  He drafted a resolution in support of preserving the trail and moved it forward for consideration by the City Council tonight and it passed by a vote of 7-0.  Yeah, tell me about it.  Badass.
  • The Spokesman Review.  They have totally stepped up and defined their position.  I know that I am old school, but I dig my local rag and can't wait for that feel of paper in my hands every morning.  Sometimes I get the bits online, but it is especially satisfying to get my news via hard copy.  At any rate, they have it right on this issue.
  • Rich Landers, in particular, at the SR.  He's just super in-tune with outdoor issues and a pretty influential guy at the newspaper, and I know he must have to manage a lot of pressure from various angles, but he has been super supportive through all this, in terms of just stating the damned FACTS.
  • Scott Arbuckle, a buddy who came to the city council meeting tonight, to support me as I bumbled my way through my testimony.
  • And many others.  You know who you are.

Some great SR stuff is here and here and here.

Outcome TBD, obviously.  This is what's at stake, though . . .

Monday, October 12, 2015

Refusing The Fail

Early this year, I made the decision to invest in a new mirrorless camera, along with some lenses specific to it.  The decision was driven by a desire, primarily, to reduce the bulk and weight of a full-on DSLR, while still being able to take high quality photos during bike trips.

I chose the Sony A6000 due to super-positive reviews and wide availability.  What none of my research ever uncovered though, was what a total piece of shit the user's manual for this camera is.  (And that description is overly kind, believe me.  Feel free to ask me how I really feel sometime.)  It lacks any kind of perceivable organization and offers a generally shallow treatment of a complex piece of equipment.  The illustrations are simplistic and the index is a joke.  It exists online only, and is an online-only document.  It can be printed, but it is even more worthless in printed form, because it is full of links within the text that send you haphazardly to other pages of the document that are located in obscure places within the structure of the document.

As someone who likes to sit down with a paper manual (even if I have to print it myself) and work my way in a somewhat linear and organized fashion through the various features and functions of a camera, as I was used to doing with my solid Canon manuals, the Sony offering was insanely frustrating.

At the time, I looked for online learning options, as well as third-party books.  There were some online bits and pieces, if I had a million free hours to peruse them and somehow synthesize some sort of understanding.  The solitary book available at the time received poor reviews, and I mean really poor.

So the camera sat.  For over 6 months.  Yeah, I could take a basic photo, but to have no control over the awesome, advanced functionality of such a highly-regarded machine was just too sour of a taste in my mouth.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and a whim of a google search turned up a very positively reviewed third-party book on the A6000, by David Busch, who has a shit-ton of experience shooting, and writing, and writing about shooting, and shooting to support his writing.  The book is freaking GOLD.  I am partway through Chapter 1, and I am already feeling like I have some sense of control over the functionality.

The way I am going to use the book is to go slowly through it, while taking gobs of photos to understand and reinforce what I am reading.

So that in the event I do actually ever ride a bike again, I will have a high-quality way to prove it.

Some A6000 practice photos from the last coupla days.  I'm starting to really dig this camera . . .

The low-light capabilities of this camera are phenomenal . . .

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Rep Schmick's agenda and tactics to close a major portion of the JWPT have been pretty well exposed over the last few days.  Personally, I cannot interpret his actions as anything other than corrupt, and I cannot stand by and just watch.

I have been clumsily getting my feet wet.  At first, I felt like I was spinning my wheels. Then, recently, I feel like I have been gaining some traction.  But it could also go backwards.

There is a public plan taking shape, though.  It will be a battle, and an uphill one, at that.  But I am so encouraged by the roster of highly capable and influential people that are getting involved.

I wouldn't be throwing down, if I didn't think we could win this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015



I don't know, I just read a couple of articles, but if this is what it appears to be, it is incredibly appalling.  Holy living hell.

No way I can stand by and just watch.  I am stupid dumb when it comes to knowing if and how I can influence something like this in any way, as a common citizen.  Guess I'm about to find out.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Busting Out

Of the rut.

It  went kinda like this . . .

Mr Speare and I had talked earlier in the week and recognized that we each had some free-time opportunity over the weekend.  We'd kicked around the idea of an S24O, possibly, but nothing had really gelled.  Then I got this text on Thursday:

"Crazy talk?  CDA visit and overnighter sat?"

Apparently it wasn't all that crazy, because we ramped up and hit it.  The Coeur d'Alene National Forest, that is.  Or CDA, for short.

This would not be a proper S240, but a drive and ride.  Thing is though, the drive is relatively short, given the reward.  Door-to-campsite takes about 2 hours, and we're working on whittling that down.  Once you're there though, holy hell.  You're in the middle of this awesome, vast, public domain forest, with shit-tons of roads of all kinds and qualities, that climb in and around through the never-ending and amazing peaks and valleys.  Nothing is flat and therefore nothing is vanilla - it's pain or pleasure.  Pain up and pleasure down.  Generally speaking.

Here's the GPS-furnished elevation profile of our ride.

Not super long, then. But a steady climb and an eventful descent. An eventful ride, actually, which was kinda-sorta the reason for coming, but then again, the trip was so much bigger than the ride; a coupla dudes got outta town, and unplugged, and recharged, in just a little over 24 hours.

Mr Speare beginning the descent, just after the summit.

It's super dry out there right now, and dust was one of the major themes of this short visit.

I chose to bring my Bucksaw.  There are pros and cons to that decision for sure, but I have no regrets.  Maybe it was not the optimal bike for the climb, but the descent was super rocky and rutty and this bike just killed it.  I had so. much. fun.

John skinned the cat in a whole 'nother way and had equally as much fun.

After north of two brutal hours in the saddle, which no man should have to endure, we were in need of some comfort and therapy.  And whaddya know,  a short path from our campsite led us straight here:

I had brought along a 32 oz can of  Sound Brewery's Monk's Indiscretion (rad name, btw), a 10% beer, btw.

While I was absorbing high concentrations of alcohol into my dehydrated system, Mr Speare set out to slay our dinner.  But alas, the river was seriously low, and fish were not to be found, so were were forced to revert to city-brought vittles.  Possibly that was a good thing.

A coupla glasses of the 10% ale started to set in and coincidentally, my goals for the evening began to take shape:

  1. Photograph myself skipping a rock; 'skipper' in one hand, camera in the other.
  2. Photograph one of those jittery bugs that walks on water.

With the point-and-shoot camera I brought.  To make it a legitimate challenge.  And without getting it wet and destroying it.

Best I could do then . . .

This next pic kinda captures the heart of the whole CDA deal . . . there are superb places to hang out right next to the rad aqueous artery that runs through the middle of it at around 2800', and then it is surrounded by killer forested mountains that get up into the 6000'+ range.  It is an amazing playground, and it is free of charge.  This last part sort of blows my mind.

The competition for time and energy in John's and my lives is not insignificant.  But the experience in the CDA has proven to be super rich, every time we've gone there.  I would be very surprised if we do not conspire some way of getting back out there in 2016, which in my mind, would necessarily include trying to drag along any of our friends who are willing to listen to our CDA crazy talk.